Difference Between Treadmill and Elliptical

Staying healthy and being in shape is not an unfamiliar concept in modern times. Everyone is more aware about physical health than they were in the past. And technology has given its remarkable contribution in this field.


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There are multiple cardio machines are available in the market. Treadmill and Elliptical are one of those.

Treadmill vs Elliptical

The difference between Treadmill and Elliptical is that they target different parts of the body. Treadmill is good for the lower part while an Elliptical can be useful in both the upper and lower part of the body. Their structure is quite different from each other and requires the user to operate it in certain different ways.

Treadmill vs Elliptical

Treadmill is used for running, jogging and walking while staying at the same place. There are two shafts attached to a running deck, rotating and parallel to each and a conveyor belt is stretched between them.

The conveyor belt moves backward pushing the runner forward. It is perfect to improve poor running habits.

Elliptical is more like cycling. Both lower and upper parts of the body get engaged while working out with an elliptical.

There are two pedals attached to the floating links known as coupler. On the top part of the machine, two handles are given so the user can grab them.

Comparison Table

Parameters Of ComparisonTreadmillElliptical
StructureThere’s a conveyor belt to push the the runner back and forth. The user is always standing on this machine.There are handles and pedals attached to the elliptical. The user can also sit while working out on this machine.
TypesThere are four types of treadmill : Manual, Hybrid treadmill, Medical treadmill and Electronic / motorized treadmill. They have their ownElliptical usually comes in three types and those are : Rear drive, Front drive and Centre drive. All types can be used for various purposes.
TargetTreadmill is designed in a way that it affects the lower area of the body since it is a lot like running. Elliptical is designed in a way that it affects the the both lower and upper areas of body.
FunctionTreadmill is very easy to function. The user can control the pace, speed, and can even set timers. There are not enough functions to operate when it comes to the elliptical since you’re using your body to push it.
Source of PowerTreadmills are motor-driven and they consume electricity in order to be operated by a user. When it comes to an elliptical, the user has to use his legs in order to push the pedals.

What is Treadmill?

Treadmill was invented by William Edward Staub and introduced to the world around the 1960s. This device is used in working out for walking, running and jogging while staying at the same place.

The best of this cardio machine is that it can be owned individually. It takes up very little space. The objective of the treadmill is to harness the power of a person to do work.

It consumes electricity so the user does not have to power it. User runs on it to reach a speed matching the conveyor belt.

Usually treadmills are motor-driven but one can also find a manual treadmill. Manual treadmills need to be pushed by the user’s feet. Modern treadmills follow the safety standards of IEC EN 957-1 and IEC EN 957-6.

Medical treadmills follow the MDD (Medical Device Directive).

Treadmills are the best cardio machine for indoor exercise. But these machines are not ideal for sports, because they develop poor running habits and a professional runner has to deal with the outside environment.

The automatically moving conveyor belt helps the user to go faster and easier while running outside, the runner has to face every single obstacle. When using a treadmill, users can control mileage, pace, speed and time.

What is Elliptical?

Elliptical was introduced to the world in the 1990s by Larry Miller. These are Stationary exercise machines. Ellipticals are also used to walk, run, jog and even climb.

A person with small injuries can use it because it doesn’t force much pressure on joints. It is considered to be ‘slow-impact’.

A user can also move backwards and isolate hamstrings and glutens to target them. Beneath the pedal links, various pedal motion paths can be adjusted. By doing this, the user can change the angle of the elliptical path to vary the actuation of the hip.

Working out on elliptical targets the entire body. In elliptical, handle-levers are attached to each pedal link. It helps to transfer the burden on both lower and upper parts of the body.

Ellipticals are not motor driven, the user has to push the pedals. This attribute makes the elliptical not ideal for functional training. This is always uncertain how much it is going to take to complete a mile.

Because of its unique structure, it targets the muscles everywhere in the body. Elliptical is known to be four-bar linkage because it uses the arrangements of links.

Main Difference Between Treadmill and Elliptical

  1. Treadmill helps the user to reach his goal while on the other the user has to pedal himself on an elliptical.
  2. Someone injured in the hip, knee or ankle should not work out with a treadmill but he can use an elliptical because of its low impact.
  3. Both machines are useful for muscle building, especially muscles in the buttocks, thighs, upper arms etc.
  4. These exercising machines are the best when the weather outside is bad because both take up little space.
  5. When it comes to maintenance Treadmill is more expensive than Elliptical because it needs electricity, lubrication of belts etc.
Difference Between Treadmill and Elliptical


  1. https://www.jstor.org/stable/3146915
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0007850607621581
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